Letter #39

This letter is written from St Ann’s, headquarters of the garrison, now part of the UNESCO World Heritage site Historic Bridgetown. 

Guayra is a mystery. There are places of that name, but none where Sir Charles would visit.

St Ann’s Barbados August 8th 1835

If this sultry weather will admit of it I will write you in lively mood, but in truth it nearly overwhelms ever sense of spirit. A lassitude perfectly disgusting and not to be got the better of crushes all power of exertion. However, here goes with an attempt to screw up the old head piece. If any remedy will have the effect it is writing to you my dear Kate. On Monday 10th I depart again on my spring legs or rather on the good ship Duke of York, commonly called here the Army Brigantine, my voyage a very disagreeable one from St Lucia to Hd you have already been made acquainted with, and so soon as I reach my destination, which will occupy about 3 or 4 days, I shall write you by the first vessel that sails for England, giving you an account of my reception in the new quarter it is my lot to occupy. When last in Demerara nothing could exceed the attention I recd, not much certainly from the Govr notwithstanding he made a great display in words, but in many other families the hospitality was unbounded. Since that time some of the best have gone to England, still I have no doubt that I shall find society enough for after a round of dinner parties it becomes weary work being buttoned & braced up in red and gold lace. Sir Charles Smith surprised us on the 23rd Ult by embarking suddenly on board the Vestal Frigate Capt Jones for Guayra where there has been some attempt at a Revolution. By the last accounts recd here since his departure, there has not been any arrival to confirm this intelligence. The object is to recruit – his health has been doubtful of late, in fact I observed a great change for the worse in his appearance. He has been too long in this climate and requires a change. It will be a trip of some weeks as there is a difficulty in getting back, what is termed here a dead beat, and it will be necessary that he makes his way to St Thomas in order to catch the Steamer coming from Jamaica. Before he quitted I passed an hour or two at Shot Hall. He was out of spirits but gave me written instruction relative to my new Government, putting Thompson, a 1st Capt, under me for his sins, of course by no means an agreeable office for me. I am also to bring a Clerk of Works to his senses, probably to get rid of him, visit Berbice once a quarter and several other points where forts are established amongst the Indians, the names of which are te-totally beyond me at present. When I have lived a few months with the Buck and other tribes of Indians, I shall be enabled to amuse you with a description of some of these outlandish stations. By the bye, I did not forward the Boxes as I proposed, not having sufficient to make up an interesting box for Wickham. Ah! how I wish I was there – it’s far distant I much fear. Some officer mentioned at Mess yesterday that Mat Dixon had got his promotion. All you fancied respecting the climate of Demerara was erroneous. The people & particularly the Military, were particularly healthy. The heat until about 2 oclock is excessive, but at that hour the sun sinks under the immense forests of the Continent and you may ride or walk with comfort. comparative I will add, for the chances are you are half devoured with Gallynippers, Mosquittos or sand flies. All this is nothing when used to it. Only fancy that my thoughfull family shd have put all their handy work, drawings, music from my highly esteemed nieces, engravings from the same &c &c &c &c at the bottom of a box of Preserves to be safely handed over by Col Studd to Capt English & coming to a climate 87, 88 Ther in the shade, with the probability of their never coming to light or the Jars bursting and letters drawing, engravings, work &c &c all being destroyed. Even the black handkerchiefs that would not tie in a knot, far less a bow round a tom cat’s throat, became Jamed & well Jamed. It was not until many days after I arrived here that, observing a fractured Jar, I directed the sert to unpack the box. This was done but the lower story did not come to light. About a week back, when the box was condemned to be remodled into a Monkey house for poor little Moses, Sambo came upstairs. ‘Massa, see em letter an’ other ting all Jambed.’ Sure enough they were & he licking his fingers. This will account for my not thanking you all for the little souvenirs. The tin Mug from Miss P I think exceedingly pretty – it was not injured. The bottles ornament my dressing table, I admire them much & have discovered the chip at the bottom of the one Kate sent. I call them Kate & Cara. The Rosettes, the latter made for my horse, & a shewy fellow he is acknowledged to be. I shall mount at the Demerara races which I understand are preparing. The music is a great treat for the Bands & that of the 86 Regt at Demerara is superb. Sambo washed the drawings whilst I was out & on returning brought them up saying ‘him all right Cap-an now me wash em all straight’, and so he had at last sufficiently recovered them that I can put them into my book. Cary has improved very much in her touch & the young uns will draw extremely well if they persevere. Fortunately the two Engravings sent by my dear Nieces are not touched by the Rasberry. Thanks & lots of kisses to all those who have bestowed so much thought on me. From the date of my last to you of 22nd July I have scarcely ever dined at Mess. The description of some of these parties I shall write in Kate’s letter which I am in hopes I shall find time to write this evening after Mess for the Mail boat sails tomorrow. The report on dear Augustus, so far as conduct, is favorable enough but the loss of places is a very serious affair unless he can retake them. If he is successful in getting a commission in our Service or even into the Artillery, the loss of a step may alter his promotion of several years. I much fear he has been in an idle lads’ room which is a very great drawback to a boy at first starting. When I was at Woolwich, Capt Macauly told me that Oldfield’s boy was unfit for the Academy & wished some friend of his father’s to write & recommend him to withdraw him, fearing he might be sent away. If Augustus has been with this cadet, the chances are that he has been unfitted for application by the habits of his room companions, but nine places in one ½ year is far too many to lose. Still I hope that in the next he may make them up. In my time it sometimes occurred that in passing from one Professor’s examination to another’s for the time, you lost places in making up the returns as you only appeared on the list of latter as commencing a particular course & low in it, whereas with the former master the Cadet had gone far into it, thus each lost in the transfer but made them up in the next half year. I trust this is somewhat of the case. The Probationary I am not alarmed about and your sending him to Mr Ambler’s will let the worst happen, cause you to feel that all has been done on your part to advance him in his Algebra. Mr A has shewn the cloven foot rather but these preparatory schoolmasters are all Jews who are ably taking advantage when the chance offers. Augustus may gain confidence in himself by being with his old master who I feel convinced does justice to his pupils – for his own credit he will work Gusto on. Your letter at its commencement of the 29th June is written in a most despondent mood. It made me exceedingly unhappy, but still there does not appear any just cause to anticipate such evil. I have no doubt all will go well and August be a comfort to us. At the same time that you write so despondingly, you have acted with your usual promptness which I give you all possible credit for. It helps to counterbalance the pain caused by the first 2 pages of the June dispatch. With respect to your finances, you must not under any circumstances be worried for the want of a 100£, and more particularly at the present moment when you have so many calls upon your purse – send me another Power of Attorney. Anything rather than knock under during this vile separation. You must have had Miss Collier’s wedding in your thoughts when you penned the letter I now read, 29th June. I know nothing of young Collier more than seeing him on board the Belvedere. I asked him on shore but there was evidently something wrong – the first Lt told me as much. My kindness was in words only – no opportunity offered to shew him any civility. He did not see me often to judge if looks of people speak truth. I continue with some rose in my fiz notwithstanding constant exposure to the sun and continued exercise. The bathing – sometimes twice a day – contributes largely to my good health and keep up one’s energy, though frequently when by myself & thinking of you all, the dismals overcome me more than I would allow them the power in a cooler climate. I shd go thro your letter & then attack dear Katy with some of what you will call gaity of this place. I am now staying with Capt [he omits the name as he turns the page] undoubtedly one of the most delightful persons I ever met. His attention and liberality is unbounded, he is know by name to all here and highly esteemed. Oh that my dear Nieces, Fanny, Barbara, Grace, Emily or Mary Anna, could each pitch upon such for the matrimonial state, how gratified shd I be. Moreover he is independent. How I would have enjoyed the Netley trip – how did it happen that the nieces were not there? Regards to the Poors if in Wickham, particularly to the pretty little woman. How are they all at Catisfield? Best regards to my Uncle H and Henry H when you meet & love to the ladies. Pinch MOB for me. You must not be surprised if my letters do not reach you regularly for a time – the move to Demerara and visits to the outposts may cause occasional delay. I have just come to that part of your letter 30th June – ‘No letter from you again, what can be the reason?’ All have arrived ere this, in truth I shd think you must feel overpowered with such frequent accounts of myself. I still continue on excellent terms at Shot Hall, Lady Smith particularly civil and constant, which rather rare for her, I am told. In fact all my acquaintance here have exerted themselves to make me welcome, Col & Mrs Tyler beyond all. My old friend Capt Martin 76 Reg D Quart Master Genl here has picket up a love & on dit is to marry. Not a lovely one nor to my taste at all. God bless you my dear Kate, keep up your spirit. I shall return young as ever and larking, a disagreeable duty got over and a claim for something better. Tomorrow I embark for British Guiana – I wonder how Comical & I shall hit it off. I much fear more money will be necessary to start me in my new abode, altho I know the Engr’s Quarters at Demerara, I will not describe them until I am seated there

Believe my dear Kate

Your aff husband Fred

Offer my love & regards to my nieces and good wishes to Lady Gardiner. How is Mrs Naughton or Naghton?

All well 9th August 1835. Start tomorrow for Demerara by Duke of York

Address your letters as usual by Barbados unless direct by vessel leaving in WI Docks – FE.